SKIPPER Harry Johnson says back-to-back matches against Birmingham & District Premier Division Two high-fliers Wem and Halesowen will be an essential test of Kenilworth Wardens’ title credentials.
The Wardens made a confident return to league action on Saturday afternoon by beating visitors Oswestry by 108 runs, quickly dispelling any rust accumulated after the three previous league fixtures were abandoned.
With a first maximum-points victory under their belts, Kenilworth now trail leaders Wem by nine points in second, ahead of Saturday’s clash between the two sides in Shropshire, and are narrowly in front of third-placed Halesowen.
For Johnson, who top-scored with 44, said Kenilworth’s confident play against Oswestry will spur the club on in the successive top-three league battles that now face them.
“We started strongly with the bat and scored at a good rate before Oswestry tightened up their bowling, forcing our middle-order to battle hard,” he said.
“It was then great to see our bowlers perform so well and a couple of moments of magic in the field brought two run-outs which really helped close out the game.
“We now have Wem and Halesowen in consecutive weeks which are both massive games.
“It’s exciting to test ourselves against the best teams in the league and we’ll have a much clearer picture of how things stand after those games.”
Making a steady start at their Glasshouse Park home after Oswestry elected to field, Wardens’ openers Shiraz Husain (27) and Nick Seager (14) put on 30 runs, and the former then enjoyed a second-wicket stand of 58 runs with number three Johnson to strengthen their side’s cause.
With Johnson gone at 101-3, it was up to the middle-order trio of Ali Zaryab (30), Henry Cullen (29) and Harry Butler (12) to provide the firepower to reignite the hosts’ run chase.
However, with the imperious Warrick Fynn (5-53) and Matthew Davies (4-27) both proving awkward customers for Kenilworth’s batsmen, the Wardens were all out for 193 in the 51st over.
If there had been any fears of an Oswestry fightback, then a stunning bowling show by debutant George Scrimshaw (3-17) quickly reaffirmed Kenilworth’s standing.
Seeing off opener Owen Aspinall (0), the pace bowler then added Ryan Lockley (7) and Matthew Richards (0) to his list of victims to leave Oswestry 29-4, giving the hosts the ideal platform.
Backed by Tommy Rex (2-27), who notably bowled Oswestry talisman Fynn (51) in the 24th over, and Amun Bal (2-24), the Wardens quickly ran through the visitors’ middle order and tailenders to secure a crushing win in just 28 overs.
Speaking on the new recruit Scrimshaw’s emphatic introduction, Johnson added: “He’s a high-class bowler, it’s great to have someone that threatens through pace and bounce.
“Having someone bowling like that allowed us to make early inroads that applied pressure through the rest of their innings.”